Advantages (plus disadvantages) of solar energy
It is true that sun is not available twenty-four hours a day. And the solar panels on rooftop may not look aesthetically attractive to some. However, the advantages of having solar far outweigh its disadvantages. If you are considering solar for your home or small business, the shortcomings of solar can be overcome as well. We will look into that when we get there.
But first, advantages of solar energy. After reading the benefits, you will understand why 1.5 million Aussies have already chosen to go solar – leading the world in highest rooftop solar energy penetration for any country (in density).
Before we start, solar energy has many advantages.
But advantages over what?
The advantages are over the conventional source of energy such as fossil fuel and nuclear.
The benefits of solar energy are better apprehended when compared against these conventional sources. You will see me draw this comparison throughout the article.
Now, let’s tart.
Advantage of solar energy: Lower electricity bill
Honestly, there isn’t much to say on this topic. We are in the middle of rooftop revolution in Australia because solar investment pays off itself by lowering how much you have to pay to the electricity company. Solar electricity offsets conventional energy that is more expensive. It also future protects you against the rising cost of traditional electricity.
Advantage of solar energy: Abundance
One of the biggest advantages of solar energy is that its resource, sun, is available in abundance, at least for the next five billion years. As you know, whether it’s Australian coal or Saudi Oil reserves, that energy resource is finite. Meaning it is limited and replacing it is not possible in our lifetime. Such is not the case with sun – which is why it is also known as renewable energy source.
French energy expert Jancovici’s study showed that the amount of solar energy earth receives from sun in about an hour is equivalent to what we consume as a society in a year – for the entire world. It means that if we captured only tiny fraction of the total solar energy reaching earth everyday, theoretically, we could meet the entire world’s energy need.
Let’s move on to the next one.
Advantage of solar energy: Clean
Solar energy is converted into solar electricity without any carbon emission. This process is simple and carbon neutral. While you can have solar electricity generation on your rooftop, the reason why conventional fossil fuel power plants are not built close to the cities is because they pollute the environment in a very significant way.
Climate change has threatened the very existence of human kinds and all living creatures on earth. Luckily, this advantage of solar energy has been a major weapon to fight against that threat.
Advantage of solar energy: Free
Although the equipments – solar panels and inverter – used to convert solar energy into solar electricity is not free, the source of solar energy, sun, is free. This is a huge advantage compared to other sources of energy such as fossil fuel and nuclear.
Countries have fought war over the control of fossil fuel reserves. Few companies dictate energy policies to manipulate supply and demand to increase their own profit. Because the sun is not up for sale, cost of solar electricity is dependent only on the cost of the equipments. Which seems to only get cheaper with rising competition and economics of scale.
Advantage of solar energy: Compatibility
Compatibility is a significant advantage of solar as it allows for seamless transition to solar power from conventional power. Or, have both at the same time. There is no difference between AC solar electricity from rooftop and AC electricity that you import from the grid. Power generated from solar panels is capable to keep your house cool in the summer and warm in the winter. Solar electricity, just like conventional electricity, can power every household appliance.
Not only that, solar electricity can be transmitted from point A to point B leveraging the existing transmission line infrastructure. There is no need to build a separate network of power lines for solar. Which means, transitioning to solar power can be a straightforward process all around.
Advantage of solar energy: Decentralized power
Fossil-fuel power plants are a centralized power producing system. What it means is that a single power plant produces thousands of megawatts of power. Production at such large scale brings the cost down. However, the large amount of power has to be then evacuated through transmission lines stretched for thousands of kilometers before it reaches our homes and businesses. It requires major power lines infrastructure and 5-10% of power is lost in the transmission line.
Decentralization capability of solar energy systems, on the other hand, can be a huge benefit. Individual households can produce their own power from the rooftop. Because solar energy is non-polluting, solar power plants can be installed closer to places where the power will be self-consumed. This helps avoid the cost of building and maintaining long transmission lines.
There you go…
Top six advantages of going solar for you to remember and brag about if you are already using solar energy for your home.
If you happen to read this post while still debating whether to get solar or not, I hope this post helped a little.
Now, to be fair, let’s look at some of the disadvantages of solar energy system.
The major downside of solar is that it is not available twenty-four hours a day. When the sun goes down, so does the solar energy.
However, we can tangibly overcome this shortcoming by storing solar energy in batteries . Up until now, the use of batteries has not been popular among solar homeowners mainly due to the cost of buying one. Improving battery technology and mass production will eventually bring the prices down.
Another disadvantage of solar energy systems is that it takes up a lot of space to layout those solar panels. Well, if you quickly look around or up ( to the roof), you will notice there is plenty of unused space. If there isn’t, however, it is a major problem.
If you particularly don’t like the aesthetics of having solar panels on your roof, you can flush mount the panels close to the roof surface. This reduces the visibility of panels on your roof.
As you can see, the shortcoming of solar energy doesn’t have to keep you from getting solar panels. Adding solar on your existing grid connected home will reduce your grid import during the day even without batteries. Thus reducing the amount you pay to the utility company.
I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I enjoyed putting it together.
If you want to join the Australian rooftop revolution, have control over the electricity bill just like those 1.5 million Aussies with the rooftop, the first thing I recommend you do is find out what your solar power requirement is. If you are comfortable reading information off your monthly power bill, you can estimate your need on your own. I’ve written in detail about how to size your system on this page.